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Bronk Ramsey’s team aimed to fill this gap by using sediment from bed of Lake Suigetsu, west of Tokyo.

Two distinct sediment layers have formed in the lake every summer and winter over tens of thousands of years.

Carbon dating is used to work out the age of organic material — in effect, any living thing.

By measuring the ratio of the radio isotope to non-radioactive carbon, the amount of carbon-14 decay can be worked out, thereby giving an age for the specimen in question.

Measurement of radiocarbon was originally done by beta-counting devices, which counted the amount of beta radiation emitted by decaying atoms in the sample and not just the few that happen to decay during the measurements; it can therefore be used with much smaller samples (as small as individual plant seeds), and gives results much more quickly.

The development of radiocarbon dating has had a profound impact on archaeology.

The resulting data, in the form of a calibration curve, is now used to convert a given measurement of radiocarbon in a sample into an estimate of the sample's calendar age.

Other corrections must be made to account for the proportion of throughout the biosphere (reservoir effects).

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